The Junk Food of Writing

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hormel is attacking your e-mail inbox.

You sign on to your e-mail. 26 new messages in only one day? Wow, that’s a lot of mail. Then, much to your chagrin, you open up your box to discover that 25 have been sent by dozens of soul crushing junk-mail senders. Oh, and apparently your mother, who just learned how to type and click the ‘send’ button, says “Hi.” Not only are you irritated by your brief, and false, sense of popularity, but also by the fact that you have to now take approximately thirty-six seconds out of your busy schedule to check the little box and subsequently delete each piece of electronic waste with a click of the mouse. Click. It seems, however, as if junk-mailers have finally realized just how frustrating and time-consuming crap-mail can be (I’m sure the Hormel corporation is angered by trash e-mail’s most commonly known nickname: spam). In order to alleviate some of the aggravation, they have become quite clever (arbitrarily, most likely) in creating delightfully random, and therefore amusing, titles. For example, here are some comically verbose “subject” headings:

“Sender: Coleen Draper Subject: Re: My drive by incomprehension context”
“Sndr: Byron Gagne Subject: showy pedantic”
“Sndr: Reuben Joyner Subject: Bab it feeble, in temple”
“Sndr: Lourdes Lazano Subject: affable egotism”
“Sndr: Tina Wiggins Subject: crockery”
“Sndr: Janelle Berger Subject: Re: To drive go camel enchain”
“Sndr: Kenny Mays Subject: A live an manhandle rotunda”
“Sndr: Clinton Mcleod Subject: Re: To know no wispy”
“Sndr: Gino Villalobos Subject: You see go poverty”
“Sndr: Therese Nicholas Subject: copious ditto”
“Sndr: Lourdes Mckenna Subject: commute treachery elliptic”
“Sndr: Errol Sierra Subject: ithaca bolshevism michele”
“Sndr: Clinton Mcleod Subject: Re: To know no wispy”
“Sndr: Jasun Pagan Subject: on picnicking, its convulsive”
“Sndr: Crystal Knowles Subject: impertinent”

That last one is gold. Most of them are about mortgages, diet pills and penis enlargements.

Breakfast on Pluto (Jordan, 2005): Similar to my thoughts regarding Brokeback Mountain (although this sloppy production is inferior), I seem to enjoy Breakfast on Pluto more upon reflection than I did as I left the theater. Perhaps I am only focusing on the film's strongest points (how unlike me) upon recollection, but although the film is deeply flawed and inconsistent, it ultimately succeeds. The difference between Pluto and Brokeback, however, is that I admire Brokeback Mountain more as a “whole” than as the sum of its parts, while Breakfast at Pluto should be applauded for its occasional imaginative sequence. From the opening, I was a bit apprehensive -- Cillian Murphy's fabulously kitschy drag queen, Patrick “Kitten,” initially sounded eerily similar to Mrs. Doubtfire. Luckily, the Mrs.-Doubtfire-accent stops there. Overall, the film is rather scatterbrained, and the political moments are vague and flaccid. The film is, essentially, a twisted fairy-tale and the protagonist is most like an aloof, transvestic Forrest Gump. It also steals a fantastic scene from Wim Wedners' Paris, Texas, which takes place in a peep-show both -- but that is beside the point. Cillain Murphy pulls off the performance rather well, but he is unable to make the relationship “Kitten” has with another man very plausible. The most commendable part of this Candide-esque adventure is its brilliant use of dated pop music. The main character often says how much he (or she?) hates the word “serious,” because it fundamentally means “reality” – something the protagonist does not seem to have a grasp on. Mr. Jordan seems to have a similar problem with “seriousness” – he has no idea how to balance and portray it believably in such a whimsical feature. Like the protagonist’s path, this provides for a fey journey, but one with a dead-end. B-, 6.5/10

Caché (Haneke, 2005): A self-reflexive and riveting take on voyeurism (and filmmaking). Personally, I was able to discover (or project upon the film, if you must) a certain political subtext. On the surface, it is an invasion on a comfortable bourgeois estate (of which is perfectly captured its supposed milieu -- look at that bookshelf and modern furniture!). Subtextually, however, it is a thought-provoking attack on any household or lifestyle (any military invasion really, but since it is the most pertinent, I thought particularly about the homes in Iraq). Unwanted visitors watching over, yet they aren't particularly visible. This surveillance is unnerving and although the characters in this film only face psychological trauma, innocent households elsewhere (being blamed for things they may not have done) may not be so lucky to escape physical harm. Many have criticized the film for being pretentious -- its vagueness and openness making it simple for pseudo-intellectual viewers to cast upon their own interpretations. The film’s irony in scrutinizing the bourgeois for their smugness, yet reveling in its own. That may be a legitimate complaint, but I found the film to even be intriguing on a literal level. Sure, it does mix the themes du jour (a.k.a repression and the affects of memories), but it does so effectively, and rather uniquely. In The Piano Teacher, Haneke manifested Erika's (Hubbert) sexual repression through sadomasochism. Here, however, he uses tapes (whoever sent the tapes is not entirely irrelevant like some may claim, but it can be answered literally or symbolically) to suggest repression. The performances in this film are excellent, and when so much rests upon the acting, it helps to be exposed to such pitch-perfect devastation. The omnipresent camera's identity isn't the only thing hidden -- the protagonist's past is, also. And, frankly, I find this to be an innovative and consistently enthralling spin on a generic set-up. B+, 8/10

Match Point (Allen, 2005): B-, 6.5/10 [Basically, I was intrigued by Allen's depiction of the oblivious English aristocracy, yet I felt as if the filmmaker Woody was just as obtuse to reality. It can be pretty clever, yet it felt terribly stagy and unfulfilling at parts. It’s a modern opera, complete with operatic tones, music and not-so-subtle moments. In a film where lust and luck rule and love means nothing (that damn tennis metaphor just slipped in!), Woody is able to get a rather sensual, but unconvincing, performance from Ms. Johansson (but, really, when is she NOT overtly sexual). The other acting jobs are fine (Myers didn't fuck up a Woody film, as I initially worried) but the characters themselves seem suffocated. The film has an interesting bit of philosophy involved, but the film remains too idea-driven throughout. Sure, there is no god, yet Woody acts as the god to these characters -- controlling every one of their choices to make sense out of his existential thesis. This would be fine, if the characters felt more full and plausible.]
Waiting for Guffman (Guest, 1996): B+, 8/10 [Incisively deadpan, yet also a bittersweet look at an insular town in Whoknowswhere, USA. This is most likely Christopher Guest’s best, and includes some sardonic humor concerning inept musical productions and the kooks involved. Deftly, the film alternatively sympathizes with and mocks its characters in the most heartbreaking and hilarious ways.]
Muppets Take Manhattan (Oz, 1984): C+, 5.5/10 [The Muppets should be rejoiced for their madcap hilarity. Joyfully frivolous, the Muppets at their best are fabric versions of the Marx Brothers. This feature, however, follows too many conventions to be a charming little trifle. Miss Piggy should not be such a bore.]


  • Nick, drop everything you are doing; you must watch the following video now:

    By Blogger Ali, at 3:40 PM  

  • Fantastic idea for parody (of course), but MadTV execution (predictably jokes, lame presentation).

    The best line was the last, of course: "A highfalutin version of the same old crap." Honestly, though, it is on a lower level than the same old crap.

    Oh, and the English-challenged delivery of "it's hawd" was rather amusing. Slightly amusing, nonetheless. Thanks for the link.

    By Blogger Nick M., at 4:04 PM  

  • Some people never delete their spam mail. I do it everytime I check my mail (since Yahoo usually does a good job of moving all that crap to the "bulk" folder). Those were some amusing spam subjects!

    And I love your little picture. I need to take a good one for my blog.

    Movies, movies. Match Point comes out here next Friday and then Caché the following.

    By Blogger Kathleen, at 7:43 PM  

  • I'm disappointed you didn't love Match Point as much as I did. Would you at least call it the best Allen in recent years?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:56 PM  

  • Why are you Anonymous? Show your face, Mister (or Miss) -- I promise I will not bite.

    Compared to Melinda and Melinda, Anything Else, Hollywood Ending and Small Tiem Crooks -- yes, it is superior. It is not better than Sweet and Lowdonw, however. So, technically, this is "Woody's best in 6 years!"

    What praise.

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